Lyricist and essayist José Oliver takes on the task of reconciling a divided association
German lyricist and essayist of Spanish descent, José Francisco Agüera Oliver, will be the new president of the PEN Club of Germany as of this Thursday. A spokesman for the German Writers’ Association announced the appointment at an extraordinary congress in Darmstadt of the writer from a Malaga family who succeeds interim president Josef Haslinger and intends to be a conciliatory figure in a club that has been transformed in recent years. marked by internal wars for years. Born in 1961 in Hausach, in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg, just a year after his parents emigrated to Germany, José Oliver is the author of poetry, short stories and essays on politics and culture. Writing mainly in German, he often sings at his lectures and his works are choreographically staged by the Sydney Opera House ballet, although he has also performed several times with the rapper Doppel-U.
He studied Romanistic, Germanic and Philosophy in Freiburg, continues to live in Hausach and is the initiator of the literary festival that is held annually in that small town of less than 6,000 inhabitants north of Friborg, although he has lived temporarily in other countries, such as Switzerland, Spain, Egypt, Peru and the United States, where he was a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Much of his time is devoted to the literary education of children and adolescents for whom, together with the Literaturhaus Stuttgart, he has developed literary workshops for schools and universities and the book “Practical Material: Lyrical Writing in the Classroom”. Author of works such as “Our Father in Lima” or “My Andalusian People in the Black Forest”, he counts among his awards the literary prizes Adalbert von Chamisso and Heinrich Böll, as well as the Basel Literature Prize.
Oliver’s arrival at the head of the German PEN comes six months after Austrian Haslinger and Italian-German Maxi Oberer assumed the provisional leadership of the association last May following the resignation of German-Turkish journalist and publicist Deniz Yücel, who towel in the face of internal clashes in the leadership of the German PEN Club. Oberer did the same a month later, after criticizing it that it was “impossible to realize the necessary new beginnings” within the German literary club. After only a year in office as president of the association, Yücel had earned the enmity of many of the German PEN members who accused him of violations and harassment.
At a convention in Gotha last May, he only gained the support of 75 of his colleagues when it came to being confirmed in the post. 73 voted against. The meeting ended like the rosary of dawn with loud accusations against Yücel, who eventually resigned, calling the organization a “sausage bar.” Since then, the German PEN has been divided. Yücel and the writer Eva Menasse founded PEN Berlin last June, in which more than 230 German-speaking authors took part. José Oliver, who did not participate in the internal wars, is expected to seek reconciliation between the two opposing sectors.
Source: La Verdad
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